One of Mars Rover Spirit's Wheels Stops Working
March 19, 2006 3:35 PM
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One of the front wheels on the Mars rover Spirit has stopped working
The Mars rover Spirit project has been going very well for NASA, but one of
Spirit's front wheels has stopped working
. Researchers believe that the motor that rotates the wheel is no longer working. The motors that rotate the wheels have worked much longer than the initial mission expected, which may be a reason one of the wheels has failed. The same wheel had problems before, when it started drawing too much current on the Red Planet. Engineers would temporarily disable the wheel and occasionally run the rover backwards to counter the problem.
Spirit is again dragging the wheel as it tries to reach a position where it can get as much sunlight as possible during winter, but although the point of minimum sunshine is more than 100 days away, there is already only enough to power about one hour of driving on flat ground per day, JPL said.
The Spirit landed on Mars in January of 2004, and has done a great job gathering information for NASA.
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3/20/2006 6:24:03 AM
Its a standard NASA rouse.
If you go to the NASA coffers looking for money to run a 3 year mission, needing $20 million a year you get refused.
If you herald it as a 3 month mission costing $5 million to run from the ground you get the go ahead, and then when it keeps running and proves to be usefull and gets public attention it suddenly gets extended funding.
The classis example are the 2 Voyager probes, which continue to be monitored and the project keeps getting funding as they have proving sucessfull.
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